Janet Robishaw to Lead Department of Biomedical Sciences

Janet Robishaw, Ph.D., a leader in functional and translational genomics, has been appointed as chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine.

By gisele galoustian | 12/6/2016

The Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University recently appointed Janet Robishaw, Ph.D., as chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences. Robishaw, an accomplished functional and translational genomics researcher with 30 years of sustained federal funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), comes to FAU from Geisinger Health System in central Pennsylvania. Most recently, she served as senior scientist and associate director at Geisinger’s Weis Center for Research.

“Dr. Robishaw was selected from a highly competitive and extremely qualified pool of candidates. Her impressive background and accomplishments make her a natural fit for this position, and she will be instrumental in taking our biomedical research efforts in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine to the next level,” said Arthur J. Ross, III, M.D., M.B.A., interim dean and a professor in FAU’s College of Medicine. “We thank Dr. Keith Brew for his service and numerous contributions as chair of our Department of Biomedical Sciences for more than a decade.”  

Robishaw, who trained under Nobel Laureate Alfred G. Gilman, Ph.D., will be the first female chair of FAU’s Department of Biomedical Sciences. She succeeds Brew, who will remain in the department to continue his NIH-funded research to develop treatments for osteoarthritis. 

As chair, Robishaw will lead the academic, administrative, and research programs for the department. She will work in collaboration with faculty within FAU’s College of Medicine and the university to boost federal, state, and private funding for biomedical and clinical research projects. In addition, she will work in concert with two of FAU’s newly-established research institutions – FAU’s Healthy Aging Institute and FAU’s Brain Institute – spearheaded by faculty members in FAU’s College of Medicine.

Research emphasis in FAU’s Department of Biomedical Sciences includes cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, autoimmune diseases, genetic eye diseases, age related eye diseases (macular degeneration and cataracts), neurological diseases and disorders, behavioral neurobiology, cancer, and infectious diseases (HIV/AIDS and malaria).

“I am very excited to join the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at a pivotal time in its growth and success,” said Robishaw. “I look forward to working in collaboration with an outstanding team of scientists within the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine and the university, as well as with our research partners throughout the region.”

The emphasis of Robishaw’s research is to help prioritize and identify the functional consequences of genetic variants associated with diseases and their successful application to the clinical setting, which is required for “personalized” medicine to become a reality for most patients. As such, the aim of her research is to develop better pharmacologic treatments for complex diseases with a focus on the “druggable” part of the genome; the G-protein coupled with receptor signaling pathways that represent the targets for more than 60 percent of drugs currently on the market.

"Dr. Robishaw's research has tremendous potential to globally improve and impact the health and well-being of patients who are afflicted with a wide variety of medical conditions," said John W. Newcomer, M.D., vice dean for research and innovation and a professor in FAU’s College of Medicine who chaired the search committee. "We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Robishaw to Florida Atlantic University and to bring her cutting-edge research to the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine.”

In addition to NIH support, Robishaw has received research grants from the American Heart Association, educational program support from Pfizer and other endowments, and business grant support from the Life Sciences Greenhouse and Keystone Innovation Zone. To date, she has been awarded about $15 million in grant funding.

Robishaw holds a doctoral degree in cellular and molecular physiology from The Pennsylvania State University and conducted her postdoctoral training at the University of Texas Health Science Center of Dallas. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and biology from Central Michigan University.